The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society is on schedule for its December 2021 opening, said Mary Nardone, associate vice president for Capital Projects Management. Centered on the pillars of the environment, energy, and health, the institute will be housed in a five-story, 156,500-square-foot building and is the cornerstone of the largest single investment in the sciences at Boston College at $300 million.
The structural steel process was completed over the summer, Nardone said, and construction is now focused on getting the exterior sealed off from weather. Mechanical and electrical distribution is currently underway in the interior of the building, she said.
The next steps for the project will be beginning masonry work on the southern end of the building—near Campion Hall—putting up precast stone and granite up the side of the building, Nardone said in an email to The Heights. Roofers will follow with clay tiles—work that is expected to continue through the summer.
“It has been great to see the pitched roofs on the building, and with the stone facade and clay tile roof, this building will really start to join the fabric of the Collegiate Gothic architecture of Middle Campus,” Nardone said.
Nardone said that the building is on track to achieve LEED Silver certification, an environmental sustainability certification based on a nine-category point system, assigning marks for areas such as energy and water efficiency and indoor environmental quality.
Some of the features of the building will include an open-design wet laboratory space for over 20 faculty members. Faculty from the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, earth and environmental sciences, psychology, and neuroscience will be able to use the space collaboratively. Additionally, the building will have other science facilities such as a cleanroom—a hyper-clean room designed for scientific research—as well as office space for faculty that do not require laboratory equipment for their work.
So far the Schiller Institute has hired three new faculty members—two faculty for the engineering program and Laura Steinberg as the Seidner Family executive director of the Schiller Institute. The 22 faculty members that will be hired for the Schiller Institute are expected to be hired gradually over the next three to four years, Steinberg said in the email.
The Schiller Institute will house several academic programs, including the global public health and the common good minor, which launched in the spring 2019 semester and will hopefully be offered as a major in the future, said Greg Adelsberger, interim director of finance and operations for the Schiller Institute.
“Global public health is very fitting as the first academic program to launch under the Schiller Institute because it is a model of interdisciplinarity,” Adelsberger wrote in an email to The Heights. “Our excellent group of faculty come from a variety of backgrounds, as do the students enrolled in the minor.”
The Schiller Institute has also launched the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health program. The Observatory is already working on several projects related to the impacts of pollution and has received funding from organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Adelsberger said.
The Observatory is focused primarily on research and is not an academic program, but undergraduates can still become involved by working with faculty on research.
The human-centered engineering program will launch in the fall of 2021 and will occupy the third floor of the building. The computer science department—currently in St. Mary’s Hall—and the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship—currently in Carney Hall—will be moved to the building, Steinberg said, and the University is looking to create more programs through the institute.
“We are in the midst of a strategic planning process to determine other new programs that Schiller will create or support,” Steinberg wrote in an email to The Heights. “We will be reaching out to the student body later this year to gather thoughts from students about how Schiller can support their academic and professional interests, particularly when those interests intersect with learning and doing for the common good.”
An emphasis of the Schiller Institute is taking an interdisciplinary approach to complex global issues. Faculty will be drawn from all of Boston College’s undergraduate schools, and the Law School and School of Social Work, Steinberg said.
The institute is currently organizing an environmental racism event with the Forum on Racial Justice, which will take place later this semester, which Steinberg illustrated as a prime example of the kind of interdisciplinary work that the Schiller Institute will engage in.